Babar defends team selection ahead of Netherlands tour

Published August 12, 2022
LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam gestures during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.
—M.Arif/White Star
LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam gestures during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday. —M.Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Pakistan will need their best players in the upcoming three-match One-day International series against the Netherlands which will be played as part of the ICC World Cup Super League, skipper Babar Azam has said.

The national side’s selection for the games, set to be played from August 16-18, was criticised due to the absence of any emerging players in the squad which will face a fairly inexperienced Netherlands side.

Babar believed Pakistan were going into the series with what he believed was the best combination of players who have been picked after his thorough consultation with the chief selector and the head coach.

“There was no need to include a lot of junior players considering the Netherlands as a weak side,” said Babar during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Thursday.

“The series carries valuable [Super League] points and can help Pakistan consolidate their position to qualify for the World Cup,” said the batter.

Pakistan are currently placed fifth in the Super League standings. The top eight teams directly qualify for the 50-over showpiece which is to be staged in India next year.

While Pakistan have retained most of their main players, pacer Hasan Ali has been dropped after consistently failing to impress despite having Babar’s back throughout the difficult period.

Fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi’s injury during the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka has left Pakistan without a pace spearhead. Shaheen, though, will travel with the squad to the Netherlands where “he will continue his rehab under the guidance of the team doctors,” said Babar.

The captain, however, said Hasan needed to play the upcoming domestic season to prove himself worthy of Pakistan selection again adding that he trusted the bowling bench strength in the likes of Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim Jr and Shahnawaz Dahani to deliver the goods in the absence of the senior pacers.

Hasan, who has a Twenty20 International economy rate of over eight runs per over, has also been left out of the Pakistan squad for the T20 Asia Cup, which is set to be played from August 27 in the United Arab Emirates.

Another player absent from the Asia Cup squad is veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who was key in Pakistan’s run to the semi-finals in last years T20 World Cup at the same venue.

Malik was a last-minute inclusion for the T20 showpiece. Babar ruled out the possibility of something similar happening again.

“We have announced the team considering it as the best and I think there is no time to make any more changes,” said the 27-year-old.

Babar said Pakistan depended on all players to show up with performances when the team needed it and that they did not rely on one or two of them to be the match-winners every time.

“Everyone has seen the way Shadab Khan, [Mohammad] Nawaz, Asif Ali, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah and others have single-handedly turned the match in Pakistan’s favour by giving match-winning individual performances, so I consider all as trump cards,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022

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